More 2007: bees, sun kings and fast food

A few more books from 2007:

Bee Season (Myla Goldberg) (Fiction).  The book is about Eliza Naumann, the supposedly normal or ungifted child in her family of high achievers and scholars.  Eliza discovers, however, that she has a talent for spelling, and the book depicts Eliza’s progression through the various local bees and ultimately the national spelling bee as well as how her new-found talent affects her family.  For Eliza, spelling provides a way to connect with her scholarly father, who begins to pay attention to her for the first time and believes that her talent has more mystical possibilities.  While they prepare for the bees, the rest of the Naumann family begins to disintegrate. 

As a former local spelling bee competitor (don’t guffaw), I thought the book sounded interesting, especially with the overtones of kabbala and how spelling could be a mystical experience (it never was for me!).  I  don’t think I liked the book very much.  It left me with a bad taste in my mouth.  It was fairly grim, and I didn’t really like the dysfunctional characters.    I just wanted to shake the family.  After I finished it, I put it down and remember thinking, “WTF?  Ugh!”  I know that characters don’t have to be likeable, but I was unable to connect with any of them.  It is s well-written, intelligent, and somewhat cold book,  and Goldberg tells the story well.  It’s also a quick read. I think I read it in an afternoon. 

Love and Louis XIV:  The Women in the Life of the Sun King (Antonia Fraser) (Nonfiction).  Though Louis XIV, the Sun King, ruled France as an absolute monarch, he was heavily influenced by the women in his life. Fraser’s book examines the women in his life (mother, sister-in-law, wife and several mistresses) and how they influenced him as well as how Louis dealt with his lusts while trying to rule France.   It was a well-researched, well-written book.  Fraser did a fantastic job of bringing alive the various women, and it’s a enjoyable peek into the life and court of the Sun King.  The only less-than-stellar comment I have is that the book deals with a long span of time, and it was confusing trying to remember who was who as each generation grew and married–often intermarried. 

Fast Food Nation (Eric Schlosser) (Nonfiction).   Schlosser’s book investigates the fast food industry, including the industry’s origins, business practices, production of beef and potatoes, and labor practices.  It was a very good book, and if it doesn’t make you want to resolve to quit eating fast food then and there, you have a cast-iron stomach.  I highly recommend this book.  I know I don’t look at McDonald’s or Taco Bell the same way after reading it (though my resolution to stop eating there quickly fell by the way-side unfortunately–those damn french fries are addictive!).  It helps that Schlosser investigates the entire industry and all the supply chains involved because you are able to form a complete picture of how the industry works.  Unfortunately, appalling practices can be found throughout the industry. 

 Other Recommendations: 

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One Response to More 2007: bees, sun kings and fast food

  1. Kendra Kolar says:

    great post , really good view on the subject and very well written, this certainly has put a spin on my day, many thanks from the USA and sustain up the good work

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